Sarah Ford - the East Coast Eagle
'Take every opportunity that you get. Things have changed so much now, and I wish I had had the opportunities that the youth girls have today. But most importantly just enjoy every minute of team sports. You'll come out with lifelong friendships and so many life skills that will help you in life.'
The East Coast Eagles have enjoyed a stellar 2020 season, finishing the minor round in second spot with just two losses—and one of the players at the forefront of the blue and yellow is none other than Sarah Ford.
Sarah has been playing for the Eagles ever since she first strapped on the footy boots back in 2017, and she has certainly been enjoying her footy with them for more reasons than one.
‘It has been amazing. I basically grew up at that club watching my brothers play but was never allowed to play myself and there was not much opportunity to.
‘So, it has been great to actually be a part of the club as a player and not just a spectator and helper.’
This family connection is very relevant because, as you will soon see, it didn’t take Sarah long to make her presence felt in the football world, and she says that this connection ‘Has definitely helped’.
‘I was very lucky to come from a footy family so had some sort of idea what was going on when I first started.’
As for the impact that she had, well in just her first season of football she made the 2017 AFL Representative team and won the East Coast Eagles Best and Fairest.
This dream debut season was certainly a sign of great things to come as the following season saw her play for the Giants Winter Series Team.
While this feat was impressive for just her second season of football, this was not her only accolade for 2018. As a matter of fact, Sarah began making her mark in a completely different sport as she earned a spot in the Elite Athlete Program at Sydney University for hockey—a spot that she currently still holds.
Even more impressive is the fact that throughout her promising and rapidly growing football career, she has also been a part of Sydney Uni Hockey’s Premier squad in their second-grade team.
And as one can imagine, playing two very different sports side by side would be challenging and ‘It has definitely had its difficult moments’.
But ‘As I have become more serious about AFL though, the hockey club has been very understandable and allowed me to spend more time at footy training. It is definitely hard some weekends to play both though’.
It is rather easy to see why Sarah has become more serious about her football, with her love towards the game itself playing a major role.
‘… the best thing would have to be the people you get to play with. Perks of playing a sport with large teams means your extended family just gets bigger. You get to meet people from all walks of life, and I love it.’
This extra focus on her football certainly paid off last year, with 2019 easily being Sarah’s most standout season to date, and hopefully a sign of even greater things to come.
It was a massive year for the humble Eagle and her side as East Coast finished Minor Premiers during their first year in the Premier Division. As well as team success, she also finished runner-up to the AFL Sydney Rising Star, claimed East Coast Eagles Best and Fairest, and also made the 2019 AFL Sydney Team of the Year.
Her talent was further recognised and rewarded as she earned a spot on the Giants VFLW side—which she must have made a good impression in doing so as she was made a train-on for the Giants this year.
And she says that her time in the orange and charcoal has ‘Been really good’.
‘I am yet to make the level that I want but being involved with the Giants has given me the opportunity to improve in ways that is impossible at a club level.
‘To get that more constant exposure to the highest level really helps your skill level/confidence and also gives me the chance to take what I learn back to my club to help improve my team as well.’
To achieve as much as Sarah has in just four years of football is outstanding, and that is without mentioning the fact that she has also been busy with hockey as well.
And of course, with all of these great achievements have also come some great memories. From which she says that both of her favourite sporting moments came just last year.
‘… Playing two Grand Finals in two days was pretty cool. Even if we lost the footy one, we were still pretty proud of the Minor Premiership in our first year of playing Premier Division.
‘That or getting to play at Essendon last year with my family all there. Meant a lot being a family of Essendon supporters and because it was in Melbourne it meant my extended family could come and watch too.’
So, what is next for this promising East Coast Eagle?
‘Currently, my goals are to do everything I can to be the fittest and most skilful I can be. Hopefully, if I can do that I can find myself on an AFLW list in the future.’
If her last four years of football is anything to go by, she certainly has the potential to reach the top tier if she continues to develop and improve with each passing season.
And while she has certainly carved a promising path in football, we can safely say that Sarah Ford will continue to be a proud and passionate part of the East Coast Eagles.
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None of these photographs are owned by MWM; all images have been supplied by the player and have been personally shot.